MIAMI (CBS4) – When the Miami Arena came crashing down, neighbors and community leaders had hoped for a new project to revitalize the struggling Parkwest and Overtown neighborhoods.
But once the dust settled, nothing happened there for five years.
“I looked out my window every day at this pile of rubble that looked like Beiruit,” said neighbor and nearby building owner Brad Knoefler.
So he decided to do something about it. He worked with a non-profit agency, and convinced the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency to give up $200,000 to create Grand Central Park. Friday night was the multi-use park’s grand opening.
“We can imagine a drive-in movie theater with inflatable scene, next day a farmer’s market, next day a concert with 8000 people, next day some guy playing a saxohopone,” said Knoefler.
Knoefler must believe in this project- he says he’s on the hook for the temporary 3-year lease from the land’s private owner. But he’s convinced the park will be able to pay its own rent by leasing out the space for events, and charging for Heat Game parking.
Neighbors like Jorge Cotes are thrilled with the new park. He says it gives him and his two young children a reason to enjoy the neighborhood.
“Having something like this close by gives you the chance to ride your bicycle, and they can be outdoors, I think it’s great, I’m very happy about it,” he told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
Neighbor Nubia Santos believes the park will bring the residents of Overtown and Downtown Miami together.
“It’s more positive, better to look at. Makes you want to be here.”
To learn more about Grand Central Park, including how to volunteer, click here.